Proposal: Arbitrum Grants DAO


We propose launching Arbitrum Grants DAO, a community-run grants program that aims to build a thriving developer community around Arbitrum. We propose allocating $10 million worth of ARB to grants for developers, community contributors, developer-focused events, and sponsorships. We would love to get feedback from the community on this proposal. It is structured as a 6 month pilot program, after which the DAO will once again vote on whether or not it should continue.

For context, I’m Shreyas, a cofounder at Llama and previously started and led Aave Grants, one of the first and most successful protocol grants programs. We’d love to get input from community members and also recruit interested members to be part of Arbitrum Grants DAO.

Strategic Priorities

Most protocols have slowed down spending due to the latest bear market. Arbitrum has $4.1B in ARB in its treasury, so it can take advantage of this opportunity by spending to attract and retain developers who can help grow Arbitrum.

Grants will be divided into standard grants (prospective grants) and retroactive grants, with approximately 70% allocated to standard grants and 30% allocated to retroactive grants. Note that retroactive grantees who have added value can also apply for standard grants.

While Arbitrum’s airdrop distributed ARB tokens to many projects that have positively served the ecosystem, it focused only on projects that were DAOs or had tokens. We believe there are several projects that have had a positive impact on Arbitrum that didn’t fall under the criteria initially outlined in the Arbitrum token distribution. We hope to reward them for their work.

Arbitrum’s strategic priorities include:

  • Bring growth to Arbitrum’s Nova chain
  • Developer tooling for Arbitrum
  • Games and social applications on Nova
  • Community, media, and educational initiatives
    • These include ETHGlobal-style hackathons focused on projects building on Arbitrum, educational initiatives to onboard web2 engineers to web3 through Arbitrum, content creation and tutorials related to Arbitrum, improved documentation and translation of documentation, and building developer communities in different regions

We will target the following general categories for grant funding:

  • Protocol development, including upgrades to Arbitrum One and Arbitrum Nova
  • Developer tooling
  • Liquidity incentives
  • Community, including marketing, media, and educational content
  • Committees, sub-committees, and DAOs that serve the Arbitrum ecosystem
  • Code audits
  • Events and hackathons
  • Bounties
  • Public goods

Arbitrum Grants DAO

Existing protocol grants programs are siloed programs run by a few people on a multisig. Arbitrum Grants DAO is a one-of-a-kind structure in protocol grants: it aims to bring effectiveness and rigor to grants while still involving the community in a lightweight way.

  • Start with 8 reviewers who are members of Arbitrum Grants DAO
  • When a new grant is issued, the grantee is added to the Grants DAO with the permission to approve new grants
  • Grants will be approved in the following manner:
    • Grants below $20k requires two of the original 8 members to approve
    • Grants between $20k and $100k require 20% the Grants DAO to approve
    • Grants above $100k requires ARB tokenholder approval

Evaluation Criteria

The evaluation of grants will be qualitative, as the best grants often don’t have obvious metrics. For example, when the Ethereum Foundation funded Uniswap, there weren’t immediately measurable metrics for that grant, but Uniswap led to the birth of DeFi, which is of immense value to Ethereum.

Evaluation criteria for standard grants:

  • Team: Is the team trustworthy, reliable, and do they have the ability to execute on the grant?
  • Project: Is the project useful, interesting, and unique?
  • Impact: Will the project have a positive impact on Arbitrum’s strategic priorities, including growth in revenue, users, retention, contributors, or governance participation?

It is a requirement that projects should be open-source to apply for an Arbitrum grant, though rare exceptions can be made on a case by case basis.

Evaluation criteria for retroactive grants:

  • Active users
  • Retention of users
  • Growth in users and volume
  • Reputation and goodwill of projects


Over 6-12 months, we will evaluate if these projects have positively impacted Arbitrum with the following KPIs:

  • Growth in users
  • Growth in volume
  • Growth in revenue
  • Increase in contributors
  • Growth in events
  • Growth in developer activity
  • Increase in governance participation


Our goal is to ensure that grantees have a world-class experience in terms of speed, responsiveness, and quality of communication from Arbitrum Grants DAO. Additionally, we will make sure that grants, especially larger ones, have sufficient diligence before approval.

There are three types of grants that interested grantees can apply to:

  • Fast grants
    • Grants below $20k
    • Grantees can expect a quicker turnaround; interview is not needed but could be requested if additional information is needed
    • Two reviewers can approve this grant after reading the application
  • Medium grants
    • Grants between $20k and $100k
    • At least one interview is required with the grantee, potentially multiple interviews for projects with a larger scope that involve verifying information with different stakeholders
    • 20% of the Grants DAO is required to approve this grant
  • Large grants
    • Grants above $100k
    • At least two interviews are required, potentially also a public community call or Twitter spaces for the grantee to present their project to the Arbitrum community
    • A standard tokenholder approval via Arbitrum governance is required to approve this grant; we will shepherd grantees through this process


I’m a cofounder of Llama and previously led Aave Grants, one of the first and most successful protocol grants programs. Llama has contributed to Aave, Uniswap, Nouns, Lido, and Maker.

Llama has built a lightweight governance system for onchain organizations, designed for use cases like running a protocol grants program. Through Llama, Arbitrum Grants DAO can issue permissions to members to allocate grants, set rules for how allocations are approved, and display a live dashboard to the Arbitrum community of grant allocations.

Reporting and Analytics

We will have a real-time dashboard to show how Arbitrum grants are being allocated, similar to the examples shown below.

Grants DAO Composition

There will be 8 initial reviewers in Arbitrum Grants DAO. Shreyas from Llama will be one of the members of the Grants DAO and the process to be a reviewer will be run openly via the governance forum.

Arbitrum community members can apply to be reviewers in the Grants DAO by replying to this forum post. If you’re interested, please respond with a comment indicating your interest in being a reviewer. Briefly share your background and why you are interested. We would like to have reviewers from a range of backgrounds, including engineering, risk, analytics, DeFi, and governance.


We propose to run the pilot grants program over two quarters. We request a max grants budget of $10 million and a max operating budget of $350k. Since Arbitrum is a core infrastructure protocol with one of the largest community treasuries, it makes sense to strategically allocate grants to grow the ecosystem. For comparison, Optimism’s current and planned spending on grants till date total over $100 million. The operating budget will be used to pay for the members of the Grants DAO, software services, legal expenses, and administrative costs to set up the grants program. The operating budget is 3.5% of the total grants budget, which is well below standard norms of 15-20%. Any unused ARB from the grant or operating budget will be returned to the Arbitrum treasury.


Arbitrum Grants DAO aims to build a thriving developer community around Arbitrum. Let us know if you have any questions or feedback on this proposal! If you are interested in being part of Arbitrum Grants DAO as a reviewer, please comment below. We’d love to have thoughtful people involved in the grant allocation process.


I’ve read a couple hundred delegate platforms and I’d believe there are two main themes:

The structure and priority of this proposal aligns well with those goals in mind. In my opinion, this proposal should be compared with rather than against other grant programs. That said, I’d be happy to be a reviewer having done so previously for Aave and Compound. Additionally, @gauntlet is an Arbitrum delegate which I believe complements that stewardship role.

Disclosures: Conflicts of interest include direct work with Aave, Compound, and various other DAOs. I would recuse myself from any grant consideration including but not limited to grants seen as competitive to Gauntlet or from current/previous protocols or teams I have worked with.


Hi Shreyas, thanks for writing the proposal.
I am confused as to why a grantee should be entitled to approve new grants?
What benefits and risks do you see in this approach?


Explored. In general, the approach is possible. But I would like to focus specifically on retro-grants: in my opinion, you should always look for those who are already doing something and doing it right. Because often, projects participating in grants rely on doing something and getting funds (there have even been research on this topic), while the project is important “live” cases. Hopefully, Arbitrum will take this into account and give grants to those who have already made, tested and launched products.


Hey @helloshreyas thanks for putting this forward - imo the sum requested is far too high for a pilot, as is the operating cost. From experience, at the start of all DAOs there is a flurry of spending, less than ideal returns and then everyone is concerned about it all and valuable things end up getting cut because of the initial splurges.

I suggest a much smaller pilot allocation, followed by an election for the reviewers (they must show clear expertise and a range of perspectives to ensure fair and valuable allocation of resource) and then a clear and thorough milestone review process. The dashboard is ok but it shows spend only, we need to see value add and growth across the verticals mentioned.

I would like to see more detail around the above vs general strokes…


Thanks for your support and interest in being a reviewer, Nick!


Great question. This is definitely a unique aspect of this grants structure where we are trying to involve more people who have shown positive contributions to Arbitrum in the grant allocation process over time rather than just the core 8 people. Note that this will be opt-in (only grantees that want to be involved should be) and that any member who is inactive or not adding value can be removed by other members.


  • Involves more productive stakeholders in the Arbitrum community, helps decentralize grant allocations over time
  • Existing grantees can source new grantees, which helps with distribution
  • Helps build a thriving developer ecosystem around Arbitrum
  • Prevents grants or governance capture by a few people; we don’t want grantees to have to lobby or have connections 1-2 people to get grants. Having more transparency and a bigger group over time prevents this.


  • Members could become inactive
    • Simple solution is that they are removed from the org
  • Members could be bad grant allocators
    • Bad decisions of any one person is prevented by our decision making structure: every grant decision require multiple people to approve
    • Also, repeatedly bad grant allocators can be removed from the org just like inactive ones

Agreed with this! This is why we have allocated some of the budget for retroactive grants.


Thanks for your comments @SPOP!

We can set up the grants program to ensure security and flexibility for the DAO:

  • The DAO approves the transfer of funds so doesn’t actually transfer the whole amount; the grants org withdraws the amounts as it needs to spend grants.
  • The DAO retains the right to stop the transfer of future funds at any time and can also clawback funds that have been sent to the grants org.
    • For example, say two months in, the grants org has spent $1 million and the DAO wants to end the grants program. Through a proposal, the DAO can prevent the transfer of $9 million to the grants program and clawback any additional funds that the grants org has.

Definitely open to more feedback, but I think $10 million is well within reason given Arbitrum’s size and stage of maturity. Here are some comparables:

  • Optimism’s grants (spent and planned) till date total over $100 million
  • Uniswap approved a $60 million grants program with a $14 million operating budget over 3 years
  • Aave’s annual planned spending on grants is $12 million

Unlike applications like Uniswap and Aave, Arbitrum is a core infrastructure protocol with the largest treasury among others currently.

I definitely agree with you that we should definitely have a lot of safeguards, the ability for the DAO to cancel the program at any time, and the ability to change and re-elect members. Open to more feedback!


(Long time listener, first time poster)

I think grant-giving organizations are going to be crucial for the continued growth and success of protocols, but only if done intentionally. Many grant programs today are reactive, receiving proposals from teams looking for funding instead of searching for teams solving a pressing need. I have a significant appreciation for the work done by the teams at the Uniswap Foundation and Reverie (currently managing dYdX and Osmosis grants) for how they spend time studying the respective protocol and its users to understand their pain points and fund grants solving them.

If approved, how will this Grants DAO think about the selection process and understanding the true needs of the Arbitrum ecosystem? Will there be an RFP process developed in conjunction with other core DAO contributors to ensure that the projects being funded are utilized appropriately?

While it’s a valid consideration to compare the size of the grants allocation to other protocols, I would be more interested in a bottoms-up model to understand how much of an investment each of the specified areas would require and how those funds would be invested and tracked to determine the impact on relevant KPIs.

Separate from the above, can you provide additional details on how the $350k operating budget would be spent? With the prior experience with grants, there should be best practices we can pull from to understand what the expected people costs would be for this and a list of necessary tooling.

In all, I agree Arbitrum deserves a grants-giving organization to support its continued growth, but would push the community to deeply consider the strategy for investing that budget to ensure it drives positive ROI over a longer time horizon.


My comments were mainly around this and avoiding mishaps that have plagued other DAOs in the past. I think it’s imp to learn from mistakes and lean more into transparency, check points and milestone management regardless of the size of the treasury.


Thanks for your thoughts @benhoneill, pretty much in alignment with most of your points.

We’ve spent some time speaking to Arbitrum stakeholders on some of the key areas to focus on and have arrived at these strategic priorities:

  • Growth to Arbitrum’s Nova chain
  • Developer tooling for Arbitrum
  • Games and social applications on Nova
  • Community, media, and educational initiatives
    • These include ETHGlobal-style hackathons focused on projects building on Arbitrum, educational initiatives to onboard web2 engineers to web3 through Arbitrum, content creation and tutorials related to Arbitrum, improved documentation and translation of documentation, and building developer communities in different regions

Approximately 70% will be spent on tooling, applications, and development that brings growth to Arbitrum (the first three categories listed above) while 30% will be spent on developer focused events and hackathons that attract people to build on Arbitrum.

Additionally, approximately 70% of the total grants budget will be spent on standard grants while 30% will be spent on retroactive grants for protocols, tools, and applications that have added value to Arbitrum.

From my experience leading grants at Aave, the exact percentages will be subject to change based on bottom up contributions and developer activity in the community.

We will build an RFP process along with other key members of the DAO and seek out specialized contributors to fulfil those RFPs.

Re. the budget: Uniswap Foundation and dYdX Grants, the two programs you cited, had annualized operating budgets of $4.7 million and $744,000 respectively, which is far above the operating budget in this proposal. We will wait to receive more input from community members on the size of the program, after which we may decide to rework the total budget and operating budget as well as share more details on the operating budget. The operating budget will be used to pay for the grants lead, reviewers, events coordinator, legal expenses, software services, and administrative costs to set up the grants program.


Thank you for your feedback. We will wait for more feedback from other community members; happy to rework the total size of the program based on feedback.


Noted and 100% in agreement, thanks @SPOP!

We will wait for more feedback from others about the size of the program; happy to rework the proposal based on feedback from you and others. The safeguards, guardrails, and transparency will definitely be present - the DAO can audit what is happening in real-time and can cancel the program and clawback funds if it chooses to.


Sorry mate that message of mine it wasn’t meant to be posted here. It was for another proposal. I just messed up. Been deleted, forget about it.

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Grants DAOs is a good and effective idea; however, I believe the operating budget is excessive. Could you please publish a more precise plan in the future?


Appreciate it and will do! Just waiting for more feedback on the scope, proposal, and size before sharing more details on the operational budget because that may change based on community input.


Ehy, GM.

I am interested in pitching a reviewer in for the grant committee. I have both professional and personal interest in the growth of the Arbitrum ecosystem. I have been contributing full-time to JonesDao, one of the most successful Arbitrum native ecosystems, and I have personally always found the DeFi experience in Arbitrum top-notch compared to other chains. I want to contribute to help this ecosystem grow, and I think this would be a great opportunity.

My background includes being an automation system engineer, and I have always had a knack for analyzing risks. Additionally, I have enjoy big time designing DeFi products. Recently, I have been gaining more experience in governance through my contributions to the Aura ecosystem. I would obviously recuse myself in case of any decision that could lead to a conflict of interest.


Would you be open to utilizing the questbook infra for managing this program?

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Thank you for your interest! Useful background, will reach out to you to schedule a call.